Yashica Minister Model 1960

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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I found this little gem on evilBay a few days ago while looking for Yashica cameras and lenses related to potential interest in getting a mirror lens on Yashica/Contax mount. I instantly fell in love with the look of the camera, quite different from the 1960s Russian "Igor" (like Zenit, Zorki, and FED) as well as the German "Wunderbar" (Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander).
The price was okay for the condition it looked in (and I don't care all that much for camera cases or straps):
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So it arrived today and it did looked like it needed a bit of cleaning (I don't want to think of the way it was stored or when was the last time it made a picture) but nothing to serious. Took my Isopropyl (I know it's not good for rubber especially given old age) a few Q types for those hard places to get into and some cleaning cloth. The external part went smoothly it not much needing then dust and a bit of gunk in the corners.

I have noticed the lens had an UV filter on but it had multiple layers of dust inside. Taking the Hoya 46mm UV filter and cleaning it I noticed more dust with the lens and I noticed the lens had ANOTHER UV filter on it the branding REX 46mm UV IX. I'm nost sure if it's original to the lens/camera design or if it's another generic UV filter (but the silver colour on it matches perfectly with the lens barrel and the font on the writing is identicle to the aperture and shutter speed font on the lens). I had to take the REX filter off because there was more dust on the filter but it was tightened very very hard. When it started spinning I have realised the actual lens front assembly was unscrewing. (I really need to learn that a lot of old lenses are designed to unscrew the front assembly, had a similar issue with a gorgeous Yashica Yashinon DX 50mm f 1.4 M42). I have tried to put it back the way it was but I think the hole assembly is missaligned now. (Forgot to make a picture of the front assembly part). At least I managed to get the UV filter off but now I do think the camera is (temporary if not permanent not functional for making imges). I need to find a place in Somerset that can restore/clean/fix film cameras and lenses.

The leaf shutter works, and the metering needle seems to react to the envoirment light. The focus, aperture, shutter and program rings worked, well that was until I screwed up. The light leak seals are completely destroyed by age. I have noticed the EVF window has quite a bit of dust in it and the gaskets around it are damaged as well. The advancing lever works well and the frame counting dial moves fine (but I havent put film in it yet).
Here are some images (they are JPEG in-camera stacked for extended DoF):

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An absolute (heavy) metal beauty. Talking about this camera the information out there seems to be extremely sparse (especially for the first version). The reason I believe it's the first version is that the 2nd and 3rd models had different faceplates and metering window position. The reason I was attracted to this specific camera it seems to come with a lens that it should not: Yashica Yashinon 45m f 1.9. All information I could find is that the first version had only the f 2.8 lens and the f 1.9 model lens should be only for later versions and a Yashica M naming that should be in the lower-left side of the camera in yellow background. I think I might have gotten a very rare model.

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The controls are all on the lens itself and they are in a very interesting way: from what I gathered is that the first ring is numbered from 1 to 17 which is different program settings that the metering will give you based on the light available. If the meter thinks you need number 7 then you turn the dial to 7 and the camera turns the shutter speed and the aperture that corresponds to correct exposure of that setting. Quite simple and elegant to make the camera simple to use and yet keep advanced manual control if you want to change them yourself.
The shutter speed dial and aperture have the same font and writing and easy to read with COPAL SVL mechanism, with settings from B and 1 second to 1/500 second and f 1.9 to f 16.
Then there's a DoF scale at the top with a switch between X and M on the side and at the bottom, there's a long leaver (not sure what that's for, need to finish reading the manual).

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The camera is very compact which I like a lot and it is fully mechanical, no need for any kind of batteries. I don't have a scale to measure the weight :(

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Unfortunately, the top has a dent, it was not made during shipping. From the top, you can see the rewind lever on the left (very sturdy and snappy, surprised how good its condition is, maybe the camera didn't see too many rolls of film), the cold shoe, the metering window, a serial number and the always wonderful Japan (made in), a threaded shutter release, a frame window counter (that I assume it moves with each shutter release) and the film advance lever single stroke.
The way the meter works is it constantly sees the light from the Selenium window and the red need on the right will move up and down showing different numbers on the left on the scale. The small dial bellow selects the ASA film speed, which is limited to 10, 16, 25, 32, 40, 50, 100, 160, 200, and 400. The last 3 scales do go up to 18 and 19 where such a setting is not on the lens barrel so I'm guessing those are telling you that you are way beyond the exposure capability of those films ASA and light condition.

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The viewfinder seems quite roomy with literally NO information in it. About 5% of the framing (I'm guessing here) on the bottom right corner is taken up by the lens barrel. This is my first time experiencing a rangefinder camera (hence my curiosity in this camera) so I don't know how good the viewfinder is.

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The shutter release has a threaded cable release support. The dial around the film advance is the film counter, you set the top red arrow to bottom red arrow, advance 2 frames and at 1 you should be ready to make pictures (simple and easy). The film advance lever feels strong, with smooth action and responsiveness. (Adds to my belief that this camera has not seen much action)

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A closeup of the metering system, the later versions of this camera changed the arrow to blue or black to increase visibility outdoors as well as more ASA speeds. There are other orientations for this LVS system in the later models as well, horizontal window instead of vertical (For the Yashica Minister-D for example).

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I believe this is the metering window for the selenium meter.

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The viewfinder window, there's a lot of dust in there. The Japanese naming for cameras from yesteryear sound a lot stranger today then back then.

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A closeup of the lens controls ... I really am hoping I can find a way to fix it, I'm already mad about this little beauty and can't wait to test the quality of this lens. And take better care of this 60-year-old girl for the next 60 or so (can I even manage to live to 90? :p )

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The lens seem to have a single coated layer (by the green tint from highlights). This is the 2nd time I found a camera that is common on evilBay but has a very rare/uncommon lens on it.

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The back of the camera seems to be in good condition (proof again for the low usage of it ?) and the only thing of concern is the need to replace the gaskets at the top, bottom, and sides of the door.

I really do think this camera needs all the love and attention and worth the cost of CLA. Even if I can't get it fixed I will never sell it that's for sure. (I guess I can put those 35mm films on backorder for now)
Yashica Minister 35mm Manual
 
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Erich_H

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Does the meter reading change with different light levels?

If so, you're in luck, as selenium cells exposed to light for long periods of time eventually will "wear out", eg. lose their light sensitivity.

Many selenium light meters on old cameras are not working anymore.

So you should always store it in the case, or in a dark place when you're not using it!

And you're right about the knurled window being the light inlet for the selenium cell. It is.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Dad Pun Joke Master Over Nine Thousand Meme Lord
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
1,109
Location
UK
Real Name
Ovidiu
Does the meter reading change with different light levels?

If so, you're in luck, as selenium cells exposed to light for long periods of time eventually will "wear out", eg. lose their light sensitivity.

Many selenium light meters on old cameras are not working anymore.

So you should always store it in the case, or in a dark place when you're not using it!

And you're right about the knurled window being the light inlet for the selenium cell. It is.
Yes, the needle reacts to different light intensities as I change the light levels (adjustable brightness lightbulbs :) ). I will look for an idea of how to cover the meter window so I don't have to keep the entire camera in the dark, she deserves all the light. Who knows how many years she was in pitch darkness in a dark corner of someone's attic or closet.
 

Erich_H

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
1,857
Location
Eastern Denmark (annexed in 1658 by Sweden)
Real Name
Erik
Yes, the needle reacts to different light intensities as I change the light levels (adjustable brightness lightbulbs :) ). I will look for an idea of how to cover the meter window so I don't have to keep the entire camera in the dark, she deserves all the light. Who knows how many years she was in pitch darkness in a dark corner of someone's attic or closet.
Try to cut out a piece of black, stiff plastic that you can press into the meter window. As a stopgap, you could use black insulation tape.
 

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